“The angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, ‘What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there.’ Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.” (Genesis 21: 17, 19)
I am part of a monthly coaching group with four other pastors. The first week of every month, we join a conference call and share encouragements, insights, and ideas for strengthening ourselves and our ministries. In one of our sessions, we were asked to share a Bible passage that was important to our ministry. Several “classic” texts were mentioned before one of the pastors named the story of Hagar as her favorite.
Now, Hagar is kind of a sad story and certainly not one I’d ever considered for inspirational material. Hagar is a servant woman who is used by Abraham so he can father a child, Ishmael. Later on, after Sarah gives birth to Isaac, Hagar and Ishmael are cast off to fend for themselves in the desert. After running out of water, Ishmael is on the verge of death and Hagar cries out in sadness for her son.
Like I said, it’s a sad story, but it’s this point in the story that my colleague named as the meaningful one for her. When Hagar cries, God hears her and then “opened her eyes and she saw a well of water” (Genesis 21:19). “The miracle,” my colleague said, “wasn’t that God created a source of water, it was that God opened Hagar’s eyes to the well that was already there.”
There are many desert places that we will confront in ministry and in our lives. It’s easy to want a miracle to get us out of those places, but big, flashy miracles are rare. Perhaps the miracles we should be looking for are like Hagar’s, where God opens our eyes to something that was already in front of us.
I know I’ve experienced this recently as I was confronting a desert time in my life. I was overwhelmed with worry and stress and looking for a magic bullet. I didn’t find that magic bullet, but I was amazed to find the resources I had in friends and acquaintances who provided advice, references, and wisdom from their own experience.
There are always challenges that will arise in ministry and life. As we confront them, may God open our eyes to the wells of hope that may be around us.
In God’s Amazing Grace,
(Note: This article first appeared in my church's newsletter.)